French Prime Minister Manuel Valls

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Tuesday defended France’s decision to carry out airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq in the face of threats by an allied Algerian jihadist group to execute a French hostage.

“France is a great nation which accepts its responsibilities,” Mr. Valls told Europe 1 radio, declaring the airstrikes would “obviously continue.” “If we give in, if we budge by an inch, we would be handing them victory,” he said, while admitting that the government was “very concerned” for the safety of hostage Herve Gourdel.

“France is not afraid,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had said on Monday.

Mr. Cazeneuve’s statement came in response to a video released by Jund al-Khilafa (Soldiers of the Caliphate), in which the jihadist group threatened to execute Mr. Gourdel, a mountain guide from Nice, unless France ended its strikes on the Islamic State within 24 hours.

Gourdel was abducted Sunday in the north-eastern Algerian region of Kayblie while touring the region with a group of Algerian friends.

Jund al-Khilafa released the Algerians and took Mr. Gourdel to an unknown location.

In the video, Mr. Gourdel said his captors had told him to ask French President Francois Hollande not to intervene in Iraq and appealed to Mr. Hollande to save his life.

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